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LAIDOUT Version 0.096.1


Laidout is desktop publishing software built from the ground up with imposition in mind. Currently one may arrange pages into various impositions, such as a booklet, or even a dodecahedron. You can fill pages with images, gradients (linear, radial, and mesh), mesh transformed images, engraving-like fill objects, and some basic text. Export with varying degrees of success to Svg, Scribus, Pdf, and more.

Sometimes there are experimental tools you can activate by running: laidout --experimental or laidout -E

Please post about any snags to Laidout's github issue tracker:

Laidout is currently in the 'mostly works on my machine' stage of development. It was created by and developed by Tom Lechner (


Currently, Laidout only runs in variations of Linux. It is being developed on a Debian Unstable system, thus that one is the most hassle free to setup.

Ubuntu 14.04 needs a more recent harfbuzz than is included, but more recent Ubuntu should work well.

Laidout does not run out of the box on Macs, but it should not be difficult to run under X11 with a few (currently undone) changes. I have no Mac to test on. Donations of the newest, most expensive and lightest Macs are welcome!

Laidout will not currently run on Windows. Feel free to subsidize a port by showering the developer with money.

Please see for some extra help. Let me know if you get stuck trying to install. It is supposed to be easy!


If you are compiling from development git, not from a release, please see 'Compiling from development git' below.

You will need a few extra development libraries on your computer in order to compile Laidout. Running ./configure does a simple check for these, but the check is so simple, that it may miss them or otherwise get confused.

For everything, you will need the header files for at least: Imlib2, harfbuzz, gegl, freetype2, fontconfig, cairo, x11, ssl, cups, sqlite3, graphicsmagick++, ftgl, opengl

If you are on a debian based system, you can probably install these with this command:

apt-get install g++ pkg-config libpng12-dev libreadline-dev libx11-dev libxext-dev libxi-dev libxft-dev libcups2-dev libimlib2-dev libfontconfig-dev libfreetype6-dev libssl-dev xutils-dev libcairo2-dev libharfbuzz-dev libsqlite3-dev libgraphicsmagick++1-dev mesa-common-dev libglu1-mesa-dev libftgl-dev zlib1g-dev libgegl-dev

On Fedora, this list is more like this:

sudo dnf install -y gegl-devel cairo-devel cups-devel fontconfig-devel ftgl-devel glibc-headers harfbuzz-devel imlib2-devel lcms-devel libpng-devel libX11-devel libXext-devel libXft-devel libXi-devel mesa-libGL-devel mesa-libGLU-devel openssl-devel readline-devel sqlite-devel xorg-x11-proto-devel zlib-devel GraphicsMagick-c++-devel libstdc++-devel freetype-devel imake

Some of the above packages are technically optional. See 'Optional Dependencies' section below for more about that.

To compile and install Laidout, just run these three easy steps:

make install
(or sudo make install)

Note that if your computer has, say, 8 processors, you can compile much faster using make -j 8 instead of plain make.

Run ./configure --help for a full list of configuration options.

make install will put laidout-(whatever version) in (usually) /usr/local/bin, and make a symbolic link /usr/local/bin/laidout point to it. To install elsewhere, do: ./configure --prefix=/path/to/somewhere/else

You do not need to make install in order to run. Simply run src/laidout. Laidout does not really depend on any other files, but you may be missing icons. If you do this , you can set a specific place or places to search for icons by modifying the file ~/.config/laidout/(version)/laidoutrc. This will have been created the first time you run Laidout. Open this file, and if the magic worked, simply uncomment the line for icon_dir and set to the directory you want. For the uninstalled icons, this would be (this directory)/src/icons.


If you want to create a deb package of Laidout, make sure you have the fakeroot, dpkg-dev, and debhelper packages installed, and have all the other packages listed from the COMPILING RELEASES section above, and do this from the top laidout directory:

make deb

This makes sure there is a "debian" directory, then calls dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot.

If the magic works, you will find installable packages in the directory directly above the Laidout directory. If it does not work, please let me know so I can fix it!

If the magic does NOT work, and you fail with this error:

dpkg-shlibdeps: error: no dependency information found for /usr/lib/

then you need to change: dh_shlibdeps in debian/rules to: dh_shlibdeps --dpkg-shlibdeps-params=--ignore-missing-info Maybe something to do with non-packaged NVidia drivers?

If you do run into problems and have to run make deb again, you might want to run with -nc option, so you don't have rebuild everything again.:

dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -nc


If you get in a bind about dependencies, from ./configure you can disable certain libraries to aid in compiling.


  • OpenGL: If you don't need the opengl polyhedron unwrapper, use --nogl
  • Sqlite: If you don't care about Fontmatrix font tags, use --disable-sqlite
  • Gegl: If you don't want to mess around with gegl, it's trickier, but just comment out in src/plugins/Makefile


Compiling from git source requires a few more steps than compiling releases. Be advised that the dev version may be rather buggy compared to "stable" versions!

Here is a fast and easy way to get Laidout up and running from development source:

  1. Grab Laidout source from github (make sure the git package is installed):

     git clone
  2. Laidout is currently built upon its own custom gui library called the Laxkit (

    Enter the laidout directory and get the Laxkit source:

     cd laidout
     git clone laxkit
  3. Compile the goods. Make sure you have all the packages from the Compiling Releases section above, then do this:

     cd laxkit
     cd ..
     ./configure --laxkit=`pwd`/laxkit/lax

    Or all this in one command:

     cd laxkit  && ./configure  && make  && cd ..  && ./configure --laxkit=`pwd`/laxkit/lax  && make

    Do NOT make install yet. Also note that if your computer has, say, 8 processors, you can compile much faster using make -j 8 instead of plain make.

  4. Icons. Steps 1-3 have (ideally) compiled everything. You can run Laidout (at src/laidout) without icons and also without installing it anywhere.

    When downloading development source code, the icons have not yet been generated. Making the icons requires Inkscape ( to generate icons from src/icons/icons.svg, and in laxkit/lax/icons/icons.svg. A python script there calls Inkscape. cd to src/icons and run "make". Do the same for laxkit/lax/icons/:

    cd src/icons
    cd ../../laxkit/lax/icons
    cd ../../..

    The laxkit icons need to be put in the laidout icon area. do this with:

    cp laxkit/lax/icons/*png src/icons

    All this in one step:

    cd laxkit/lax/icons && make && cp *png ../../../src/icons && cd ../../../src/icons && make

    The current system can take a long time, depending on the speed of your computer, since the script has to start Inkscape separately for each icon. Some day, the icons will be generated directly from the base icons file by Laidout, for a large speed improvement, but much work needs to be done on the SVG importer before that can happen.

    You can use src/icons/ to regenerate all icons, or single icons if you like. The master icon file is src/icons.svg. Each top level object in that file with ids that start with a capital letter will have an icon generated of the same name by running ThatName.

  5. Ok, now do make install.

    A note about uninstalling. Work needs to be done on "make uninstall" to not remove things that were installed to those directories other than with "make install", such as the addition of extra resources. Right now, everything in prefix/share/laidout/(version) will be removed on uninstall (but not anything in ~/.config/laidout). If this is causing you difficulty, please let me know, and I'll try to finally fix this.

  6. Running Laidout might spit out copious amounts of debugging info to stderr if you run from a terminal. If this is the case, you can turn this off with make hidegarbage before doing make (the same goes for the Laxkit). Be advised that this requires Perl to be installed. Or, you can just run Laidout like this:

    laidout 2> /dev/null

    Also, if you make any changes to the include lines of source files, make sure to run make depends. This will update dependencies for the next time you compile.


It is quite ok to install different versions of Laidout at the same time. The ~/.config/laidout/ directory keeps all the config information in subdirectories based on the version. The same applies for installed binaries and other resources that get put in prefix/share/laidout. This way, you do not risk clobbering or corrupting files from other versions.

You can change the version number manually by specifying it when you run ./configure with something like:

./configure --version=0.096-different

You should try to preserve the main version number (which is 0.096 in this example), or it might confuse Laidout at some point.

Though you can have different versions coexist, there is not currently an automatic way to convert resources from older laidout versions to newer ones. This is on my long to-do list, but is a low priority. If this is a problem, let me know!

If you build the deb package, you currently can only have one version at a time by default. To change that, you would have to tinker with debian/control. If this is something you need, please let me know, and I can make instructions for that.


There is a lot of source code documentation available via doxygen, just type:

make docs

or if you want all documentation for the Laxkit and Laidout in one place, then make sure you have a link to the Laxkit source in the top Laidout directory, and do:

make alldocs

This will dump it all out to docs/html. In particular, you will have a rapidly expanding todo list. If you want to contribute, that is a good place to start. That and the Laxkit todo list.

A down and dirty way to become aquainted with the source code is to download the Laxkit to the top laidout directory (if it is not there already), and change the following lines in the Doxyfile-with-laxkit to say YES rather than NO:

EXTRACT_ALL            = YES

Then from the docs directory, run doxygen Doxyfile-with-laxkit (or do make alldocs from top directory), which will generate a clickable source tree accessible from your favorite web browser.

By the way, all the code assumes tabs are 4 characters wide. (in vim, :set tabstop=4)

Also check out the dev page on the Laidout website:

Compiling on Mac OS X

For the adventurous, you can help make Laidout work on OS X. Straight from downloading, it will not compile all the way on OS X. You'll still need all the libraries listed above. I'm just guessing, since I don't have access to an OS X or other BSD based machine, but it shouldn't be too hard to make Laidout work on them. There are a few places where I use GNU-only functions, like getline(), which shouldn't be very difficult to replace or define similar functions.

Compiling on Windows

Sorry, you're out of luck at the moment. If this is important to you, and you don't want to figure it out yourself, feel free to subsidize a windows port with copious amounts of money.